How to Choose Loads

When you are choosing a load to haul there are many things that you should consider.  It could vary based on the type of trucking job.  For example a hazmat tanker driver might consider things that are irrelevant to a bed bugger/household driver. 

This page will give you guidance for success.  Because choosing your loads correctly could mean preserving or burning up your profit margin.

  • The weather for the route you need to take
  • If the shortage route has restrictions for what you're hauling
  • The abundance or lack of freight where you will delivery the load
  • The time that you pick up and deliver
  • Whether the most direct route is highway or back road
  • The congestion level in relationship to the appointment times
  • The weight of the load
  • The type of place you're going to

Check the weather for the route you will be taking.  If you can avoid driving into inclement weather.   

Make sure you are happy with the detention you will receive if you will have to pull over and wait for bad weather to pass over.

In my case, I just rather to avoid loads that require me to use a route that goes through inclement weather.  Of course, sometimes you can avoid the weather by adding 50 - 100 miles to your trip. This may be Ok for an owner operator, just make sure you pay makes up for the extra miles.

(However if you're a company driver, they may not let you go a longer route.  But they might let you refuse the load based on weather.)

Short and Long Run

Longer miles look good because for the run it will pay more money total compared to a short run.

As stated in the video shorter runs will pay you more per mile than longer runs.  

But you have to take into account the time it will take you to get loaded, haul the load and get unloaded.


But again, you have other things to take into account as part of the equation as well.

Here's an example for comparison....

Say there's a load from Greensboro NC to Dallas Tx

1100 miles for 1900. 

$1900 / 1127 = $1.68 That's only $1.68 per mile

Would take 2 days.

But you could run a load from Greensboro NC to Macon Ga

And from Macon (area) back to Greensboro (area) 

Total miles approx... 800 miles (allowing extra 100 for deadhead) $2000

$2,000 / 800 = $2.50 That's $2.50 per mile!

Could take 2 days maybe 3 if because extra load and unload time.

This means your profit per mile is better with the shorter runs.

However, it's possible the shorter runs could take an extra day.

But if you start on a Friday and deliver on Monday the longer run might make more sense than taking a short run with 3 days to go 400 miles.

So you see, there is no right or wrong.  You just have to do the math to decide which makes more sense for your goals.

Note:  If you have truck and trailer payments and fuel is as high as it is, you might not make a profit running for $1.68 per mile.  However, you might run it anyway to cover fixed cost if you don't have a shorter load with higher pay per mile available rather than sitting the entire weekend.

How Much Freight Will Be Available for Reload

Be aware that there are lanes that have heavy truck freight and others that don't.  You need to know that there is good paying freight nearby where you will deliver your load.

If you deliver in the middle of a desert, it might pay well to go there.  Western Texas for example.  But what is the closest place that you might get a load out.  

Hint:  If you decide to take such a load, start trying to book another load immediately.  Don't wait until you've delivered.

Loads pay well going into Florida and California however, coming out the loads will pay horrible.  So something else you must consider.  

Unless it's watermelon season in Florida.  Or you have a refrigerated trailer for produce coming out of California.  Then you might be able to get paid well going in and coming out.

How Much Time You Have Available

You have to look at your clock and figure out if the pick up and/or deliver times will work with your available hours left to drive.  (Log book)

You MUST take into account whether you can pickup and deliver the load you choose legally without running out of hours.

Don't take load that you can't run legally.  And don't take it, if you must work out perfectly to run legally.  Usually things take a little longer than you plan during the pick up, delivery or transit time.

The Routes to Get There

Some deliveries don't have a good direct route from where you are located.  A load might be 500 miles and unless you map it out you might assume that you can run it in 8 hours.  (I usually use 60 miles an hour to calculate time.  So I have a cushion of time )

However, if more than half of the run is on backroads and thru stop lights it's going to burn up a lot of extra time.  So you have to compare the routes to get there when you are choosing a load.

Suppose the load is heavy vs a light load.  A heavy load through back country might pay more than a light load.  But you will burn a lot of fuel.  Or you might take a longer route than the back roads with a heavier load to avoid the stop and go.  Will burn less fuel on a 500 mile trip adding 50 miles to avoid stopping and going.

Check the Weather

Back to the Greensboro NC to Dallas run....

I could go I 40, i 30 to Dallas or

I 85, I 20 to Dallas

It's about 14 miles difference.  But there could be snow on i 40 going to texas and 65 and sunny going I 20 into Texas

In the winter i would chose the southern route using i 20

In the summer when my air conditioner needed charging though, I would use I 40 because the trip is cooler temperatures.

Weight of the Load

Hopefully you're not running around with less than 400hp but even then you might find it more profitable to run a longer run for less per mile through flatter land than a load that pays more but takes you through the mountains.

Going up hills is burning extra fuel and taking extra time.  Also if the route for the heavy road includes a lot of backroads or lights it might not be worth it.

Type of Place You're Going To

For example Grocer warehouses, some distribution centers and certain other places could just burn all your time up waiting to load and unload.

So do a search for reviews to get intel on what to expect when picking up and delivering at those places.

It might pay a little more to go to these places, but if you are going there say on a Friday morning and when you finish it's after 1pm in a town that typically have light freight available to haul, it could be a bad idea to choose that load.  

However, it might make sense to haul the load Monday through Thursdayl

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.